On Wednesday, November 17th, Mass Mentoring Partnership had the honor of hosting Dr. Kira Banks, co-founder of the Institute for Healing, Justice, and Equity, as a part of our 2021 Speaker Series "Critical Conversations: A Three Part Series Focusing on Black and Brown Youth with Intention." Dr. Banks, an expert in equity and youth psychology, held a keynote address on raising equity by supporting positive racial identity formation in youth.
Dr. Banks stressed the importance of analyzing the work of the mentoring field through a racial equity lens, illuminating and challenging racism in order to eliminate it. Proactive and explicit addressing of how racism affects our youth is crucial to create a state in which a person's life outcomes cannot be predicted by race. Mentors should make an intentional decision to be an adult who cultivates an equity mindset in their mentees.
Racial identity and its intersection with equity was also discussed, with particular emphasis on Dr. Banks' "Equity N.E.R.D.S." framework.
N - Name it: What's the system? (empathy and responsibility)
E - Educate Yourself: What's the backstory? Who is most impacted? (Initiative and Responsibility)
R - Reframe: See it with new eyes? Where is the power? How can I leverage mine? (Responsibility and Emotion Management)
D - Dream Up Solutions: What would the system need to be equitable? (Problem solving and initiative)
and S - Start: What part can we live out now? How can we move towards equity? (Problem solving and Initiative)
By raising youth within a N.E.R.D.S. framework, youth develop positive racial identities for themselves and an equity focus on society. Finally, Dr. Banks stressed that mentors and youth serving organizations need to be willing to ask themselves questions about how they are facilitating racial identity development, and to keep in mind that intent doesn't always equal impact.
Our Speaker series has two additional keynote presentations on December 1st and December 15th. On the 1st, Keith Jones will present "The Fullness of Humanity: Understanding the Intersection of Race and Disability," while on the 15th Jasmine Ramon will present "Exploring the Intersections of Gender and Race." Please consider attending these wonderful presentations by signing up via the link below!"
Sam Steed is a Father Monan Fellow and the MMP AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring Communications and Network Associate at Mass Mentoring Partnership.